By all accounts Will Muschamp's job of keeping Florida's 2011 recruiting class intact was solid.
“To come in in the short term, we did a nice job of securing the class we had, which we had to re‑recruit all of those guys because of all of the changes, the mass changes with our staff,” Muschamp said Wednesday.
Overall Florida lost some ground with the transition from Meyer according to the scouting websites. The Gators were given a ranking of No. 12 in the nation by ESPN down from 4th overall under Meyer in November rankings.
Scout.com's rankings put Florida significantly lower at No. 21 nationally, while Rivals.com puts the Gators at No. 14 in the nation.
Muschamp says he doesn't read the internet anyway.
“I don't count stars. I watch the tape, I recruit. I don't want to disappoint anybody or offend anyone, but I don't read the Internet. I put the tape on and I decide from a critical standpoint if this guy can fit in our program.”
One major positive, was a maintaining the commitment Meyer nabbed last April from the nationally top rated quarterback Jeff Driskel, a 6-foot-4 pro style quarterback from Oviedo Hagerty high school.
In total, 11 players signed their National Letter of Intent on Wednesday taking the 2011 class to a total of 18.
Seven of the eleven recruits who signed on Wednesday are mid-year enrollees. Muschamp said that those guys really need to be “into it” because they have to give up a lot of things that seniors in high school normally do, such as attending a senior prom.
Muschamp said they could have signed 25 total recruits for this class but intentionally held it to 18 so that additional scholarships could be saved when his staff has an entire year to recruit.
Rankings aside, the transition from Urban Meyer has gone about as well as anyone could have imagined.
It's not clear right now who might see significant playing time in 2011. But expect a lot of chatter leading up to the Spring Game about whether Driskel can challenge John Brantley for the starter's job as a freshman.
He is a pro style quarterback who is ranked No. 1 by ESPN, Scout and Rivals at the quarterback position. You have to imagine new offensive coordinator Charlie Weis is looking forward to building a quarterback from the ground up.
Driskel has drawn comparisons to Jake Locker at Washington. He was the Gatorade player of the year in the state of Florida last season. He told Sports Illustrated back in October that he thought he played similar to Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers.
Meanwhile, Bruce Feldmen of ESPN ranks the super athletic tight end A.C. Leonard as the 8th best early enrollee in the nation. Leonard is ranked by ESPN as the 61st prospect in this year's class.
The other star of the class is running back Mike Blakely out of Manatee high in Bradenton. The 5-foot-9 back is ranked 7th by ESPN at his position and 6th by Rivals.com. At Manatee he was used at a variety of offensive positions including wide receiver and quarterback in the Wildcat formation.
He underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder last week so he'll be out for the Spring but should be ready for fall practice.
2011 RECRUITING CLASS
Enrolled in January 2011
NAME Pos Ht. Wt. HOMETOWN (Previous School)
Mike Blakely RB 5-9 205 Bradenton, Fla. (Manatee HS)
Clay Burton DL 6-4 245 Venice, Fla. (Venice HS)
Kyle Christy P 6-1 185 Brownsburg, Ind. (Brownsburg HS)
Jeff Driskel QB 6-4 238 Oviedo, Fla. (Hagerty HS)
A.C. Leonard TE 6-4 245 Jacksonville, Fla. (University Christian HS)
Javares McRoy WR 5-8 170 Lakeland, Fla. (Lakeland HS)
De'Ante "Pop" Saunders DB 5-8 173 DeLand, Fla. (DeLand HS)
Signed National Letter of Intent in February 2011
NAME Pos Ht. Wt. HOMETOWN (Previous school)
Jabari Gorman DB 5-11 170 Miami, Fla. (Monsignor Pace HS)
Chris Johnson DB 5-10 198 Ocala, Fla. (Trinity Catholic)
Tommy Jordan OL 6-4 297 Ridgefield, Conn. (Ridgefield HS)
Hunter Joyer FB 5-11 237 Wesley Chapel, Fla. (Wesley Chapel HS)
Loucheiz Purifoy DB 6-0 171 Pensacola, Fla. (Pine Forest HS)
Marcus Roberson DB 6-1 175 Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. (St. Thomas Aquinas)
Valdez Showers DB 5-11 192 Madison Heights, Mich. (Madison HS)
Graham Stewart LB 6-1 216 Middletown, Conn. (Xavier HS)
Ja'Juan Story WR 6-4 196 Brooksville, Fla. (Nature Coast Technical HS)
Trip Thurman OL 6-6 302 Dover, Del. (Dover HS)
Tevin Westbrook DL 6-5 268 Coconut Creek, Fla. (North Broward Prep)
Comments on Weis
Muschamp also said Wednesday he's excited to add Charlie Weiss as the offensive coordinator, who he says was the best play caller in the NFL last season. He says he's looking forward to implementing a balanced attack based on a pro-style offense.
Coaching staff changes
Derek Lewis was the tight ends coach at Minnesota for the last four seasons and was hired this week to take the same position at Florida.
Lewis was a graduate assistant at Texas for Mack Brown so he is obviously very familiar with Muschamp.
Brian White, who was assigned as the tight end's coach, will now be the running backs coach. White joined the Gators in 2009, after serving as a running backs coach at Wisconsin.
It was also announced that wideouts coach Aubrey Hill will be the recruiting coordinator.
Urban Meyer cuts professional ties
A statement was released on Wednesday announcing that professional ties had been severed between the coach and the school. There was some speculation that Meyer's commentary for ESPNU's coverage of NSD on Wednesday could constitute an NCAA violation if he was still employed or served in an official capacity.
NFL Combine Invitees
Seven Florida Gators have been invited to participate at the NFL Scouting Combine Feb. 23-March 1st in Indianapolis:
safety Ahmad Black, offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert, punter Chas Henry, free safety Will Hill, offensive guard Maurice Hurt, offensive guard Carl Johnson and center James Pouncey,
Men's Basketball win over Vandy, Kentucky Saturday night
Following Tuesday night's 65-61 overtime win over Vanderbilt, Billy Donovan was pleased with the effort and didn't classify the final minutes of regulation as “letting them back in” but rather said that Vandy was simply a good team.
Donovan emphasized it was the most physical game the Gators have played all season and two years ago he didn't think his squad would have responded as well as they did Tuesday night.
Florida out rebounded Vanderbilt, 47-34, including 15-7 on the offensive glass. The Gators outscored the Commodores, 10-7, in second-chance points.
Though the late game defensive breakdowns can be nerve racking, Florida got the win, all is well that ends well. They certainly won't face the same physicality Saturday night against Kentucky. That game will be about speed and athleticism-just as it has been since Calipari took over for the Wildcats.
Three of Kentucky's five losses have come on the road, including Tuesday night in a loss to Mississippi71-69.
Wins against Washington, Notre Dame and Louisville are impressive but losses to Alabama, Ole Miss and Georgia show Calipari's Cats have a lot to put together in a short period of time.
The key to stopping Kentucky will be to stop the freshman: Terrance Jones (17.9 ppg), Doram Labam (14.2 ppg) and Brandon Knight (17.2).
Kentucky can also stroke it from long-range, where they are shooting 39-percent, the best percentage in the SEC and 16th best in Division-1.
ESPN's College GameDay will be at the O-Dome on Saturday before the 9 p.m. ET. Tip-off. Ironically, according to a press release, GameDay will feature a discussion about what's wrong with the SEC.
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